In modern politics those concepts have arisen without doubt. The different variations are similar concepts from a historical point of view, but my question is more technical than practical.

Could there  be a confusion between the terms demagogism and populism?, this is a question raised from my own ignorance and not from academic questionings.

Why can I assure such sentence or affirmation?

Well we need to review the meanings of each word:

  • Demagogism: The art and practice of gaining power and popularity by arousing the emotions, passions, and prejudices of the people. 
  • Populism: It’s a belief in the power of regular people, and in their right to have control over the government rather than a small group of political insiders or a wealthy elite.

In my point of view this definition raises the question of populism’s can be successful, let me explain.

The populist movements we see nowadays are concentrated in left or right wing parties, who embody the hate of the “people” against the market, the free trade or other “enemies” of the state. For me they are demagogues because they are taking the emotional part from the citizens to gain power, rather than the rational part of the citizens and even worse forgetting the long term policies,  the best example –  a pure demagogue –  is Donald Trump.

Now if we take the definition of populism, What happens? Will it be possible to capture real desires of citizens and can those desires coexist in a free society?. Even liberal countries as UK or USA have this problem where they have open societies but they respond de facto powers as big companies, political parties or biased opinions from the people. No all societies are perfect, and it doesn’t matter where you live, the elite is ruling your country with more or less power.

My thesis is based on empowering citizens to enrich decision making in the governments. The desire outcome is a more democratic and smart society where we increase well being as a total. It’s a double-edge sword because the will of the regular people can be influenced by intellectuals that want a particular outcome, playing again a role as elite. That’s why it’s important for citizens to think by themselves, not based in what others thinks, but based in facts and science. As a reader you will say that the weight will be transferred from human science to natural sciences.

Reaching this new level the citizens can have a more active participation on democracy rather than vote each 4-8 years. It’s obvious politicians can’t trust citizens, because the actual criteria of citizens is not fully developed and easily  influenced. The most remarkable and recent case is Brexit.

It’s obvious that the challenge is more social than technical, a Chilean writer Cristian Warknen says “Politicians have stolen politics”, because they are acting in their own behalf rather than for well-being of society. When the elite is a more blurry image rather than a strong component of social interactions and you add the participation and applied knowledge from the citizens into decision making the world would be a different place. It’s a task for citizens and politicians to change this picture.


Disclaimer: The definitions have been taken from the Well known dictionaries only refers to the word demagogue rather than demagogism.